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Murphy, Thomas H. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Vol. 70, Number 2 (Nov. 1968)

The concept and the seed,   pp. 24-[25]


Page 24


Behind the Nobel Prize: The UW Enzyme Institute
The Concept and the Seed
T   HE Enzyme Institute is now of
age. When it became 21 years old
in 1968, it celebrated with a bang.
With nothing less, in fact, than a
Nobel Prize.
  It was in 1947 that funds were
authorized for construction of the
Enzyme Institute. Two years later
the first research team moved into
the new building at 1710 University
avenue. Almost from that moment
the University of Wisconsin's En-
zyme Institute became a leader in
enzyme chemistry and life sciences
research.
  Back in the late 30's and early
40's, European enzyme researchers
were ahead of the rest of the world
by several laps. But the Nazi regime,
demonstrating its disdain for aca-
demic- achievement, halted their re-
search by jailing the scientists or
forcing their emigration. As the
smoke of World War II cleared,
UW President E. B. Fred, together
with Graduate School Dean Conrad
A. Elvehjem, and Dean William
Middleton and Dr. Van R. Potter of
the Medical School, recognized that
a research vacuum had been created
by the war,_ not only in Germany,
but elsewhere in Europe, including
England and Sweden. They recom-
mended that the University of Wis-
consin establish an Enzyme Institute
in Madison to expand the Univer-
sity's own enzyme research program
and to advance the studies the Euro-
pean scientists had been forced to
abandon.
   Unable to secure the necessary
funds from other sources, the Uni-
versity administration brought the
proposal to the attention of the
Trustees of the Wisconsin Alumni
Research Foundation. In July 1947,
the WARF Trustees approved an al-
location of $300,000 for construc-
Khorana (rt.) and assistant in' Institute lab
24
tion of the building and a year later
increased the sum by $50,000 for
the acquisition of needed equipment.
This was considered "seed" money
in the hope, that it would flower
eventually into a fruitful research
venture. The Rockefeller Foundation
supplemented the fund with a grant
of $100,000.
A research team headed by Dr.
David E. Green occupied the prem-
ises immediately upon their comple-
tion in November 1949, followed
seven months later by a second team
led by Dr. Henry A. Lardy. In 1952,
Dean Elvehjem was able to report
that ".-. . workers in Europe recog-
nize our Institute as the center for
enzyme research in the world."
  By 1957 the Enzyme Institute was
running out of space. The U.S. Pub-
lic Health Service indicated it would
provide $300,000 for expansion of
the laboratory provided an equal
amount could be found elsewhere.
"Elsewhere"   turned   out to   be
WARF, which supplied the match-
ing funds.
   With the additional space and
equipment now available, the Insti-
tute was able, in 1960, to house
three more research teams, one under
the leadership of Dr. H. G. Kho-
rana, one under Dr. H. Beinert, and
the third under Dr. L. J. Gosting.
Professor Khorana in 1964 became
the first appointee to the Conrad A.
Elvehjem Professorship, a wholly
WARF-supported chair which he
continues to occupy.
  At the present time it has become
necessary to make yet another addi-
tion to the Enzyme Institute. The
new addition, now being constructed,
is funded by Federal and State funds
totaling about $1,700,000.
  The Green-Lardy-Khorana-Bein-
ert-Gosting groups have won several
honors for themselves, for the In-
stitute, and for the University of
Wisconsin, with Professor Khorana's
Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physi-
ology the dramatic climax of a long
series of such tributes.
   Starting with the original $300,000
from which the Enzyme Institute and
its works have sprung, the Institute
now operates on an annual budget
of well over $1 million. Since its
inception its total budget has been
about $12 million, of which almost
80% has come from Federal sources,
13% from the State of Wisconsin,
and the small remainder from gifts,
trusts and WARP. Considering the
growth and renown of the Enzyme
Institute, the added prestige it has
given to the University, and its price-
less contributions to mankind, the
concept and the seed planted 21
years ago have flourished beyond an-
ticipation into a rich and bountiful
garden which continues to grow. 0


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